Palestinians hold general strike to mourn victims in Gaza violence


The West Bank and Gaza Strip witnessed Saturday a general strike as a national mourning over the deaths of 15 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli gunfire in Land Day rally in Gaza Friday.

The strike included the commercial sector, banks, schools, universities and public institutions in both Gaza and the West Bank.

At least 15 Palestinians were shot dead and over 1,200 were injured Friday as Israeli forces opened fire towards scores of Palestinian protestors marking Land Day at a rally held at the borders between Gaza and Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held Israel fully responsible for the incident and declared Saturday as a national mourning day.

In a statement issued by the Office of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, he urged the “international community to settle the final status issues, at the top of which is the issue of refugees, based on the UN General Assembly resolution 194 and the establishment of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

It is expected the massive Palestinians will take part in funeral processions in Gaza later on Saturday.

A coordination committee of Palestinian political factions, civil society organizations and youth groups called weeks ago for a large popular rally at nearly 700 meters away from the Israeli border fence under the title of “Return Rally” starting Friday.

The Friday rally was the start of a six-week long protest that is expected to reach a peak on May 15, the day Israel celebrates its establishment and the Palestinians mark the forcible transfer of two thirds of the Palestinian people and the ethnic cleansing of 418 Palestinian villages.

Demonstrators demand the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to the towns and villages from which their families fled or were forcibly driven out of when Israel was created in 1948.

The rally organizers chose to start their activities on Land Day. On March 30, 1976, Israeli soldiers killed six unarmed Palestinians during demonstrations in protest over an Israeli decision to confiscate thousands of acres of lands in the Galilee and the Negev areas.

Since then, Palestinians have designated this day to mark the sacrifices of the Palestinian people’s lives in defending their lands, through planting trees and various activities that highlight their respect for their lands.